Thursday, December 29, 2011

Big Boy

Milo is currently getting tucked into his big boy room for the first time tonight. I realize the parenting "experts" say this important step should have been done months before the new baby's arrival and not, as in our case, weeks or perhaps days. Still we are feeling a huge sense of accomplishment in that the room is ready and the baby is still in my belly. Now we just have to hope the adjustment goes well. He is very excited about the big boy room and bed (a twin sized one which he looks adorably itty bitty in), so I am crossing my fingers that it will go well.

In celebration of the big boy room, I wanted to jot down a few quick notes about our big boy before our little guy makes his appearance.
  • He's a lover that one. A friend told me today that yesterday at a play date, he stopped playing and told her he was just going to go check on a baby in the group. He went and stood at the baby's bassinet, said hello and returned to playing. Likewise, he has been very protective and sweet of me lately. I was taking a rest yesterday and he came up to check on how I was doing, he petted my arm and said feel better Mommy.
  • He talks quite well now. I can almost always understand him and others are starting to not have a tough time with it either. Of course pronouns and verb tenses sometimes trip up. I often hear do instead of does / my instead and I and vice versa. One of my favorite language mess ups I hear is that he always says "I love you too" even when he initiates the phrase.
  • Milo, for all his sweetness, is also stubborn. There are times when it is far, far easier to just give in rather than battle with his strong will. There are also times when his stubbornness is quite amazing to watch. We have a ladder that leads to our attic. He loves to go up, but is scared to come down. One night, we watched as proved to himself he could climb back down that ladder. Even if he was crying and fighting us the whole way, he was going to do it. And he did.
  • The stubbornness also means that potty training is commencing on his own terms. If he decides when and where he sits on the potty, things go quite well. If we suggest it, there is quickly a fight. So he's about a quarter of the way potty trained. We've had some great moments and some not so great moments. I'm not pushing it too much as I know there is likely to be regression once the baby is born.
  • Milo's favorite toys right now are Thomas the Train items. He loves the books, DVDs and all variety of trains. He often races around the house pretending to be Belle the fire engine train and will assign us train roles as well. I know more about the Island of Sodor than I ever thought I would.
  • He is also very much into Buzz Lightyear and to a lesser degree Toy Story. His Buzz jammies remain his favorite. In fact, we just bought the next size up because the first pair had not only seen better days, but also was getting too small. He's wearing these new jammies in his new room tonight.
I am so excited to see Milo take on the role of big brother. He has so much love and a keen sense of adventure to share with the little one. Each morning, Milo comes into my bed for a little cuddle. He will often say "so Mommy what we do today" and if I don't have an answer, he will have a suggestion. And that's just one more thing I love about him.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Another Christmas on the Books

I've said before that I often get a holiday hangover of sorts following the big Christmas celebration. This year, the feeling that I somehow messed up Christmas crept up on me before Christmas day even transpired. I was up late on Christmas Eve night, not putting together toys or finishing up details for breakfast the next morning, but ordering jammies. Matching pajamas for next year. For all of us. At 11:30 on Christmas Eve. While putting Milo to bed, I realized I never bought the requisite winter / Christmas pajamas for Christmas morning and it bothered me.

It also bothered me that we didn't put up a tree until the afternoon of Christmas Eve. And even then the tree didn't get ornaments - just lights and a star. It did the job, sure, but it was missing the magic.

I think the magic, is what I was missing last night on Christmas Eve. Of course, the magic wasn't missing for Milo. He was still excited to spend lots of time with us, Pa, GG and his uncles. He excitedly opened presents and played with new toys (big on Cars, Toy Story and Thomas the Train this year). For both nap and bedtime he requested bringing new toys to bed with him and I know he feels like one lucky and loved little boy (he so is).

Being two weeks away from having a baby on Christmas is exhausting. I couldn't do as much as I wanted to. We moved the Christmas day celebration from our house back to my parents. I'm glad we were still able to spend the day together, but I missed taking the burden off of them for a day.

We're still en flux figuring out our own holiday traditions - where do we go, who do we go with, where is Santa in all this, what about the reason for the season. Each year I feel like we put the puzzle pieces together a bit more. Some things have to go, but the really important parts stay.

Next year will be all different all over again. We'll have two kiddos to share the excitement and love with. And matching jammies for our family.

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you and yours felt the magic and enjoyed your time together.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Thoughts

I have mentioned before how I am a little ambivalent about the whole Christmas thing. I mean I like the lights and holiday specials on television, but the overall consumerist nightmare gets to me. Plus, while I am vaguely religious, Chris really isn't anymore. So it doesn't even make sense in our house to focus on the birth of Jesus as the reason for the season. If anything, I can get down with the Solstice - celebrating the return of light over darkness, yes, please (and this thought of course can be carried over into the nativity story). Santa is a whole different issue. I don't feel right about totally ignoring him - he's everywhere, but we're not into the whole naughty and nice thing either.

Milo has seemed to pick up on all these mixed emotions and messages. Thinking it would be a good segue into Christmas, I bought an Elf on the Shelf book and figurine. At first Milo was excited about it, but as we started reading the book together his face got darker and darker until he ripped the book out of Chris' hands and threw it. What was I thinking? Milo doesn't like Santa and here we were reading him a book about an Elf who was going to live with us and spy on him in order to report back to Santa. It's messed up.

Today another Christmas hang up happened. We were grocery shopping when Milo saw a train set. Ensue 35 minutes of crying his eyes about wanting the train. I tried to patiently explain we weren't getting it. He would hopefully cry that maybe we would get it next time. And then the cashier said maybe he would get it on Christmas if he was good. Seriously?

So now Christmas is all about getting presents and according to Milo it is also when Buzz Lightyear comes. So, yep, I think that pretty covers my thoughts on the matter.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Stationery card

Extra Sweet Tidings Holiday Card
Create custom Christmas cards this holiday at Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.
This is one of the three holiday cards I designed (and will maybe send out) this year. I love online cards and found this one to be especially "sweet" with Milo's little face showing how proud he was of making the gingerbread house.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Catching Up

It seems like this fall has flown right by. There are a couple of reasons for that:
  • I am pregnant (right now 34 weeks so). I had forgotten how pregnancy is a kind of time warp of keeping track of weeks, frequent doctor's appointments and lots of glorious naps. We're (baby and I) both doing well. Baby is measuring right on target and has been head down for the last several appointments. I might be in a little bit of denial about just HOW pregnant I am. For the longest time and still occasionally I keep thinking, but I'm not all that far along. Now, I'm that far along - we only have six weeks to go!
  • During this time I completed my yoga training. This has long been a goal of mine and I am so proud of myself for finishing it. I look forward to continuing to learn and grow as a teacher, but the first major step is done. The year-long training experience was amazing - a wonderful opportunity for personal growth and reflection. I had moments of doubt throughout, but I am so glad I did it.
  • We have done several really fun family things this fall - hiking in southeast Ohio, pumpkin picking, apple picking, days at various parks and fall festivals. Milo is such a joy right now. He's easy going and fun. He can communicate and reason. It's been a great season together.
So that has been our fall - it's been a beautiful season in both the literal sense and the this time of our life sense.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Real Mom

Despite my rather pregnant belly and my daily workout of chasing a two-year-old, there are still times I don't feel like a real mom. I sometimes say the wrong thing, I forget to remind the kiddo to wash his hands, I don't care if his clothes are stained and we stopped for chicken nuggets and fries on the way home from the zoo today. I suspect a real mom would always know just the right thing to say and would be prepared with antibac for hands, a change of clothes and a packed nutritious lunch.

Then today Milo came running out of his room at nap time with a stricken look on his face and his most favorite friend Baby Bunny in his hand. In his other hand was Bunny's ear. I tried to stay calm, but in my head I was screaming OMG Baby Bunny is DEAD. I gently took Milo's hand and got him back in bed. I told him I would take good care of Bunny while he slept and Bunny would be all fixed when he woke up.

Being the only person home, it was up to me to perform the Bunny surgery. Even though I briefly thought of taking Bunny to my own Mom and having her do the stitching, I knew I was the one who would find the needle, thread it and make Bunny as good as new. Milo was trusting me to make everything better because that's what moms do.

The stitches are neither small nor even, but the ear is back on and Bunny looks almost back to normal. When Milo wakes up from his nap, he'll have his best buddy back to cuddle with. And I'll have the realization that maybe I am more of a real mom than I thought.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Busy? Yep.

As I am listening to the sounds of very silly and very happy laughter waft down from before bed stories (it's 10 p.m. - go to sleep already!), I am reflecting on how crazy our lives are, but how much fun too.

I am also designing either Halloween or Thanksgiving cards on Snapfish. I can't decide between the two holidays. On the one hand, we have much to celebrate and be thankful for and Thanksgiving seems the more momentous of holidays. On the other hand, I love Halloween and it seems the more lighthearted of the holidays. We are certainly lighthearted.

Summer has come and gone in a blur and Autumn promises to be just as busy. By the time Christmas rolls around, we'll be ready to welcome our new addition. It all seems so fast and yet there are so many sweet moments making up our days. Hugs and kisses and tickles and giggles. Sometimes I want to freeze time and other times I want to speed it up. And sometimes I just want to take a nap.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Thoughts

This Labor Day has dawned cool and cloudy, which is a big change from just Saturday where we were happily splashing in the water on a 90+ degree day. I guess summer really is giving up her fight and moving on out. I usually love Autumn - the cool days, fun activities and sweet tastes are right up my alley. This year, however, I feel myself holding on a little more to summer and not quite ready for it to end.

We've had a great season of vacation and play dates in the park. Of family walks in the evening and ice cream cones on the playground. We've blown bubbles and played in the sand and just enjoyed the time spent together.

I know summer will come again and we'll find new delights, but this is the end of this summer, this season marked by just one toddler boy. I'm not totally sure what our life next summer will look like - we'll have a three-year old getting ready for preschool and an infant just learning to sit up. I'm sure it will be sweet, but it won't be quite the same.

So tonight, we'll pull our camp chairs around the backyard fire pit and talk about our favorite things of this summer and what we're looking forward to doing in the next season.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Boys, Boys, Boys

Last week's (actually, two weeks ago, eesh time is speeding by) ultrasound revealed there is a healthy, flexible and quite possibly stubborn little boy growing in my belly. My little yoga baby was curled up with legs crossed in lotus position facing my back and unwilling to move around. We couldn't see much other than his spine, but at one point the technician could get a clear indication that the baby was a boy. Next month will be another ultrasound to just make sure everything we couldn't see (heart, brain) is looking good. We'll get confirmation of the boy parts then, but I am not expecting it to change.

I wasn't surprised to hear the baby is a boy, but it still threw me for a loop. On some level, I thought since I already have a boy that I would just naturally have a girl next. It clearly doesn't work that way. I'm also not disappointed to be having a boy. I love being a boy mama to Milo and can't wait for this little guy to join in on our adventures. And I have a feeling there are going to be plenty of adventures waiting for my little men and me to discover.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Lost Balloon

I have found that good days often follow bad days. Yesterday was a tough day. It had me Googleing search terms such as "2.5 year old doesn't listen" while Chris put Milo to bed. My searches suggested this is a totally normal phase and setting clear boundaries should help. I went to bed after reading that.

The extra sleep must have helped because today was much better. We visited a new park, had lunch out and Milo even did great getting a haircut. Then on the way out of the car to go in the house, Milo let of the string to the balloon he got at the haircut place. We watched it float away into the sky and then the tears started. Real, wet, large tears streaming down his face. Accompanied by screaming that he needed his haircut balloon back. We held hands as we set off down the street to look for the balloon. I, of course, knew it was gone, but Milo held onto hope that we would find it. At that moment, I would have given him 100 white balloons with blue ribbons, but he only wanted his one and it was gone.

I'm sure there are all types of metaphors I can draw on for the lost balloon: freedom, innocence, childhood itself. But sometimes a lost balloon is just a lost balloon. And sometimes it reminds you that good and bad days happen, but ultimately everything just floats away.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Things I Have Been Neglecting to Blog About

  • The baby I'll be having in January.
  • The small amount of uneasiness I am feeling about most likely finding out the gender of this baby in two weeks.
  • What a super (and busy) summer we are having.
  • The (sorry) state of our garden this year.
  • How my yoga training program is going.
  • Books I have read.
  • Things I have cooked.
Now that I have a list to work off of, I'll try to get back in the blogging game.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Milo Month 28 Update

Milo right now is a bundle of little guy sweetness in a package of skinned knees and farmer's tanned arms. He is getting to be a bigger and busier boy each and every day, but he still has time to cuddle and hug.

Since returning from vacation, he's talking more and more in relatively complete sentences and with thoughtful ideas. I find it intriguing that he understands the concept of a synonym. If I don't understand what he is saying phonetically, he will sometimes repeat it using other words. I love this. Over lunch each day we talk about what we have done and have actual conversations.

In other growing up news, Milo has ceased using the binky in the car. Now it is only confined to sleep times. I'm proud of him for the car step and won't be pushing him to stop using his "ba" to sleep anytime soon.

Lately, each evening we have been spending some time outside getting nice and sweaty playing ball before heading in for bath time. This is a great way to burn off some energy at the end of the day. While it is great Milo is so curious and has so much energy, this sometimes means he is darting off when he's not supposed to be. I'm trying to find more appropriate ways for him to redirect this energy. It is keeping us busy, but I wouldn't have it any other way!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Back to Reality

We spent all last week in Florida where we swam in the ocean, dug in the sand and laughed ourselves silly. Part of the reason for getting the mini-van was in preparation for the 18 hour trip to southwest Florida. The ease that it made traveling totally made up for any angst Milo and I felt making the switch. We were able to spread out, watch DVDs and enjoy a quiet ride. It made two days each way in the car with a two-year-old not so bad.

Once at our location, we had a simply lovely time. I was really hesitant to travel with Milo last year, but this year went quite smoothly and we all had a great time. It probably helped that he is a year older and a bit more flexible with his routine, but I think the key was having reinforcements with us. Some of Milo's favorite people (and mine too) were on the trip with us and between the five of us there was always someone to entertain and or keep Milo from walking off the end of the pier.
Some random things about our trip:
  • Have you seen a baby sea turtle? I love them. I almost turtle napped one from the aquarium we visited. Poor little guys only have a 1 in 1000 chance of survival.
  • Toddlers can evidently live on fries alone. And ketchup too of course.
  • Milo started really talking during the trip. He picked up tons of new words and was less shy about using them. There was so much to see and do and so many people around to talk with that he just got right down to it.
  • Part of this meant he wanted to order his own dinner when we go out at a night. FRIES please.
  • At one restaurant, he so charmed the people around us that whole tables would wave and tell him goodbye upon leaving.
  • The Gulf of Mexico is one of my favorite bodies of water. Milo jumped right in and would happily proclaim himself to be FLOATING while splashing around with his swimmies on.
  • We had a breakthrough in sleeping arrangements on this trip. Milo has never when traveling wanted to sleep anywhere but with me, but this time he slept on his own little cot and was quite pleased about it.
  • I already miss the beach and all of our family time spent together.

Friday, June 24, 2011


We bought a new car last night. Not just a new car, but a new type of car. We are now a mini-van driving family. It's a big change and it is taking a bit of getting used to. On the one hand, it's just a vehicle. A roomier way to get us to the park. On the other hand, mini-vans have become a symbol of the suburban family running from soccer practice to martial arts. I'm not ready to say I am a card carrying member of that group yet.

Still the new car is nice and I welcome the change. My two-year-old though isn't so sure. He thoroughly enjoyed the car shopping experience. There were toys and one dealership even had a swank built in play center! He didn't seem to quite grasp that our car wasn't going to be coming home with us though and when that became clear there were big fat tears. He wanted the green car back. I can't blame him really. The green car was the only car he has ever known. We took him home from the hospital in it. I almost yelled deal off, buckled him in his seat and took off, but I blinked back my tears and explained it's okay to be sad about the things we are used to when they are gone, but change is good too.

I understood his reaction. I often say I like change, but the truth is I like change about two months after the fact. In my head I might say change is good, change is positive, all we have is the present moment and that is constantly en flux. But in my heart, I am closer to a crying two-year-old who likes what he knows and isn't ready for a change.

We're both much better today. And we'll be totally on-board with the plan in two months. Change is all we have.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summer, Summer, Summer

Although it's not technically summer yet, we have been so enjoying some of the best the season has to offer. An early heat wave brought plenty of opportunity for wet fun. We visited fountains and played in the sprinkles. Some of Milo's buddies came over for a fun morning of baby pools and Popsicles.

We've also been riding our bikes quite a bit this summer. We finally decided on and bought a bike seat to attach to Chris' bike and Milo has been enjoying our rides. Last Sunday was such a nice day that we kept riding past our usual park destination and rode downtown for a trip to the Santa Maria and lunch at Tip Top. Totally unplanned fun!

I just realized today is the 16th! So here are some quick Milo things:
  • Milo adores both of our phones. He plays some counting games on them as well as the light saber app. I also often find him pretending to talk to people on the phone - usually Pa. He will say Hallo. How you today? Good. Bye.
  • Our radio listening in the car is typically NPR news. So Milo wanders around saying: Milo with NPR news. I kind of love this.
  • Although Milo is for the most part a pretty adventorous eater, he did tell me "no eat kohlrabi, it yucky" the other day. His favorite food continues to be French fries. Preferably from Wendy's. Oye.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gender Bender

Probably due to this couple who are trying to raise their 5 month old as genderless, I have been thinking about gender a lot lately. While I want to be sympathetic to the parents of this child, I think rather than making it not about gender, they are making it ALL about gender by withholding the information of whether their baby is a boy or girl.

I agree there is so much more to know about a person rather than boy or girl and as a society we are too focused on boy or girl behaviors, but by not telling people what the baby is it makes it all about the gender issue. When you a meet a baby you typically know the gender either by name or dress or other parental clue-in and once that is out of the way, then you have the opportunity to learn their favorite toy, how they like to be held and whether or not they like applesauce. By withholding that gender identity, the focus is totally on boy or girl because as humans we like to compartmentalize.

With Milo we've tried to walk a middle line in the gender issue. We didn't find out his gender before birth so for the first several months of his life he wore a lot of green and yellow, but he is now rocking out golf shirts and little boy shorts. He is allowed to pick out his toys and activities. So blocks, cooking things, tea sets all get a thumbs up from him. Cars, trucks and army men not so much. Recently at a store with a giant display of backyard play balls, he picked out pink as the one he wanted to take home. I hesitated briefly and then went with it. We now also have a purple ball. Both are typically girl colors, but a boy toy. Regardless, we have plenty of fun chasing then around the grass.

It's sometimes a tightrope walk this bringing up a child in a gender-crazed society. As parents we want to allow for freedom, nurture a healthy identity and provide the message that boys and girls are equal. We also want to make sure our children are happy, well-adjusted and accepted for who they are. Whoever that turns out to be, because there is more to a person than gender.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Milo May Update

Here we go again...although I had every intention of quitting these updates after 2 years, I have decided to keep going. I will be doing them in a different format and I think the picture might just be a recent snapshot rather than posing with the sign, but we'll see how it evolves.

Things I super heart love about Milo this month:
  • He's been saying "oh" quite a bit. "Oh" as in if I tell him where his fork is and it just dawns on him. Oh.
  • Milo is super sweet. At gymnastics when a friend fell down, Milo extended a hand to help him up and said "Otay Augie?". I was so proud.
  • He is also a good sharer (for the most part). If another child asks for a turn with a toy, Milo will always pretty much hand it over. This is why it irritates to me no end when bigger kids just grab from him. He looks up with hurt eyes and wonders why they did that.
Milo's Favorites this month:
  • Since we have reintroduced dairy to him this kid can't get enough cheese. Cheese, please.
  • Being outside is still a favorite and being outside at a park is even more fun. Yesterday he asked to go to the Red Park. It was interesting he had a specific park in mind and gave it his own name.
  • Milo had a cold this week and we've been watching way too much television. He has switched from watching Nick Jr. to watching the Disney Junior line-up. The Pirate show and Mickey Mouse Club house are the new favorites.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Lovely Soup

Cooking for family and nurturing through food is a long tradition in my lineage. For this reason, I am so pleased Milo is an adventurous eater, is constantly playing kitchen, and also often helps me cook. Yesterday he was standing on a chair at the counter as I was making soup for dinner. We were adding spices, prepping veggies and chopping ingredients. In the midst of all this work, he gently rested his little head on my upper arm and said love. I'm not totally sure if he meant he loved me, he loved cooking or he just loved eating Pa's sausage, but I'll take any of the above and it was an incredibly sweet moment. It seems cooking together is as meaningful to me as it is to him.

Lovely Soup
2 links spicy sausage
1/2 onion diced
4 cups cooked white beans
3 carrots chopped
3 stalks of celery chopped
1/2 zucchini chopped
1 carton low sodium chicken broth
1 bunch kale, torn from stems and rinsed
Spices to taste: salt, pepper, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes

Saute sausage and onion together until onions are translucent and sausage is no longer pink. Add beans, carrots, celery and spices. Cook for 10 minutes. Add broth and bring to boil. Cook for 1 hour. Add zucchini and cook for at least 10 minutes and then add kale 20 minutes before serving. Enjoy with a grilled cheese sandwich on a cool and rainy day in May.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Earth Day

Last week we trudged down the street and through the rain to a little local park to help plant trees for Earth Day. We ended up planting the trees in the woods between the river and the bike path in order to crowd out invasive plant species. The morning turned out to be great fun and Milo was a great helper. As a thank you for volunteering we received coupons for free Jeni's ice cream at an Earth Day celebration today, also great yummy fun.

Each year (okay for the last two years) for Earth Day, I have given Milo an eco-themed picture book. Coincidentally these are Sesame Street published books and they are both huge hits here. Whether it is the familiar characters or the content of the books we have been reading Grover's 10 Terrific Tips and Plant a Tree for Me on repeat lately. (You should be able to find the Grover book in the Target dollar aisle and who knew the Muppets had their own wiki?)


In other earthy news, our pea sprouts are now ready to be planted outdoors, but I so loved them when they were wee little plants. I don't usually start seeds indoors, but this has been a great project to do with Milo. We water them, talk about their growth and what things they need to succeed and bear fruit - er veggies.

We've come a long way since this was our Earth Day message:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

To Continue?

So here it is, four whole days past the 16th and no month update has been posted. Although we have been busy and our sleep schedules seem to be undergoing another upheaval, this is mainly because I can't decide if I want to continue the monthly updates or not. On the one hand, I really like having the photograph each month and some written reminder of what Milo is doing and what we've been up to. On the other hand, I seem to be repeating myself quite a bit because at this age toddlers build on skills rather than come up with something totally new. If I do continue, I'll change the format a bit. I'm thinking bullet points and picture rather than a whole post each month and I'll stop counting by month (I can't imagine saying he is 25 months old - the boy is two, very two).

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Go Ahead and Touch

As the mother to a curious two-year-0ld, I spend a lot of time saying don't touch. I don't particularly like saying don't touch, but many things in life aren't for touching and some objects are just plain dangerous. So don't touch it is, at least most of the time. One afternoon after nap, I thought we would do an activity particularly made for touching and tactile exploration.

Several of the blogs I read are really into sensory boxes, so I thought I would give it a try. A sensory box is simply a container full of various textures - typically dry rice or beans and then whatever else you want to add (I used felted wool balls, quarters and larger beans amongst green split peas). To be honest, at first I really didn't see the point of these types of activities (plus I don't like the idea of food - no matter how cheap - going to waste). Milo wasn't a fan at first either, but the more we played and talked about the different objects we were feeling the more he liked it. The part he liked most though was getting a spoon and stirring it into a "soup" and then dividing into smaller bowls. While also an interesting activity, it didn't meet the goals of sensory, so I tried to direct him back to using his hands and searching for the different objects amongst the split peas.

All in all, it was a fun way to pass an hour, but I'm not sure sensory boxes will be a mainstay at our house. I'll keep trying to incorporate new textures and perhaps he'll come to like the activity more as he gets older. In the meantime, I am trying to think of a new craft to use all those split peas.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Meatless Dinners

In late high school and college, I flirted with being a vegetarian. I didn't really like eating meat and when there was an option, I chose veggie, but I didn't go out of my way to be consistently vegetarian. Eventually I came to like meat and became more comfortable with preparing it so that meat is often consumed at our house. However, there are many people who believe you can't really be a yogi and eat meat (it goes against the principle of ahimsa or non-violence). I'm not ready to ditch the meat entirely, but it's not a coincidence that I planned two meatless dinners for us this week when coming off of a weekend spent at yoga teacher training. Here are those two meals:

Pasta and Kale and Olives
1 box whole wheat pasta cooked according to package directions
1 bunch kale
1 can of fire roasted tomatoes
1/2 onion chopped
2 garlic cloves
small container of pitted green olives from the grocery store olive bar, chopped
Parmesan cheese
olive oil

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until onions are translucent. Add rinsed and chopped kale, tomatoes and olives. Steam covered until kale is softer and a more bright green color. Season to taste with salt, pepper, dried basil, red pepper flakes. Add cooked, drained pasta to pan, drizzle with olive oil and toss to combine. Top with grated cheese.

Verdict: Chris and I loved this one! So yummy and so simple. If you want more veggies, you can double the amount of kale. Milo happily ate a large serving of this and then asked for meat. He's a carnivore, that one.

Black Bean and Rice Enchiladas

2 cups cooked brown rice
1 can black beans or 2 cups cooked dried beans
1 cup taco sauce
1/2 cup salsa
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
Any desired add ins: frozen spinach, onion, corn
Flour tortillas
Cheddar cheese

Combine rice, beans, taco sauce, salsa and sweet potato (plus any add ins) in large pan. Cook until potato is tender adding liquid as needed, about 20 minutes. Spoon filling into tortillas and place seam side down in baking dish. Top with more taco sauce and desired amount of cheddar cheese. Bake until cheese is bubbly about 15 minutes.

Verdict: This is a hit here: we've been eating it almost once per week throughout the winter. I love that I can up the nutritional value by adding various ingredients and it keeps the dish from being the same each time. I've done this with corn tortillas also, but they don't stay together as well in the pan. The key to this recipe is having the rice already cooked. Typically if we have a stir fry with rice on Monday, it means we are going to be eating this on Wednesday because I just cook extra and save it.

So two nights of eating meatless this week means we're having cheeseburgers on the grill tonight!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Free Range Spring

Last week the bright pansies Milo and I planted on Monday were covered in a surprisingly large amount of snow by Wednesday.

Today there was rain and thunderstorms. In between showers we pulled on rain boots and headed out back for puddle jumping and splashing. As long as Milo holds my hand, I let him play in the alley that runs behind and beside our house. The best puddles are there.
A woman walked by with a disapproving look and muttered how brave I was. Brave for letting my son play in the rain? For letting him be a kid and jump in water to see how it splashes around his feet? I don't think that qualifies as brave, just as a fun way to pass the hours on a rainy Spring morning.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Monkey Chatter

My little boy is climbing back down the evolutionary path and acting positively primate like. He is a climbing machine! Up and down chairs, tables and any other structure that will hold still. On playgrounds he is reaching higher and higher heights.

A few months back I wondered why he was content to stay on the ground when his peers were already climbers. Clearly he was just biding time and improving his climbing skills because he is now scampering around tall platforms like it's his job. And scaring his Mama just a bit in the process.

In yoga we sometimes talk about the monkey chatter that takes place in every one's head. It's that feeling of voices in your head going from thought to thought to yet another thought. In some lights, yoga is a way to still those thoughts and instead focus on just one thought. It's harder to do than it seems and we all need practice at just being. We are not our thoughts and our thoughts are not us.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sick House

We capped off Milo's birthday party weekend with a Sunday night of him throwing up in our bed. It wasn't pretty and resulted in more than a few loads of laundry as sheets needed to be washed and jammies changed repeatedly. Milo had never thrown up before. Not only was it uncomfortable for him, but it seemed to scare him.

What I was hoping was an isolated incident - maybe he ate something off - turned out to be a week long virus that so far has gotten me, Chris and my Mom, too. I hope it stops there, but this bug seems to have some legs and knows how to get around.

Today was the first day any of us here really felt like eating. Chris went straight for a Graffiti Burger and fries. My stomach wasn't up to that, so Milo and I stuck with frozen waffles, apple sauce and soup.

We've all been drinking too much juice, watching way more Elmo than is appropriate and spending plenty of couch time cuddling. In fact, other than the whole throwing up part of it, I don't think Milo has minded being sick at all.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


While this might look like a mug shot, the only thing Milo is guilty of is being a super cute and sweet little boy. I can't quite believe he is two! And, so far at least, two is great! Some special things to note about my two-year-old:
  • He gives the best hugs. Especially before bed, Milo is a very tight hugger. I love the feel of his little arms around my neck. He's also a fan of hugging his friends good bye. We're working on this because some of his friends are not huggers. He looks at them like they are crazy while I explain hugging isn't for everyone.
  • Milo is really enjoying craft activities. He loves to paint with water colors on his easel. Play dough is a super fun play treat. And watch out when I get out the glue, because Milo thinks it is wonderful to squeeze out.
  • Thanks to silly Uncle Tony, Milo now has a fondness for pirates. He thinks they are hilarious and will erupt into crazy giggles if we mention a pirate flag at the bottom of the ocean.
  • Milo is getting more concerned about others. He gets worried if Pa is coughing too much and asks if he is "otay." He also doesn't like it if I say ouch.
  • As always, Milo is very interested in feeding animals. Lately he has been offering every animal we see fries. Cooking is still Milo's favorite game.
  • My little climber is becoming more and more self assured on playgrounds. He can now use the ladder type apparatus which has me both proud and a little fearful. I don't need to follow him around on playgrounds anymore because he has a much clearer idea of sudden drops.
  • Milo makes up silly little jokes which are primarily answering questions wrong and then laughing. For example, he thinks it is super funny to say that Pa and G live at our house. If you ask Milo how old he is, he says three and then giggles. Not so fast Buster, I think two is going to be something we both want to enjoy.
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Friday, March 11, 2011


When I was in labor with Milo, Chris took that very opportune time to let me know he just noticed a gray hair on my head. That was roughly two years ago and thinking about gray hairs hasn't been high on the priority list, but it seems having a toddler and turning 33 has caused a few more to sprout. Around Christmas I noticed a gray which I tried to cut out with nail scissors. You can guess how well that turned out. At my last hair appointment, my sweet stylist plucked two wiry, coarse gray hairs out of my scalp. I tipped her well and tried to ignore her hints about coming in for color.

I haven't colored my hair for almost five years, when I finally said goodbye to the party girl blond highlights and back to my natural dark self. I don't want to do all over cover now and I'm simply too lazy to keep up with a highlight regime. Eventually, I'll probably be forced to choose a color option, but in the meantime I'll keep the nail scissors close and hope more grays don't surface.


The color of the sky in Columbus in early March is a particular gray. It's not the hopeless gray of January or the seemingly never ending gray of February. Instead it is the gray that holds promise of change. The promise of a growing season and longer days ahead.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fry Soup and the Birthday of One Dr. Seuss

A kid invented recipe is sure to please
and to a toddler it holds the pleasant table manner keys.

Milo’s been talking about it for days
and Mama added it to the menu with much praise.

What is it, you ask, that Milo created?
Why it’s fry soup unmitigated!

Clearly my rhyming skills have not much improved since the fifth grade when I last attempted stanzas of poetry, but my cooking skills have come a long way. For days, Milo has been pretending to make fry soup for his stuffed friends Bert and Ernie. Soup is easy to make in a pot (according to Milo you just throw various blocks in, stir and put the lid on) so he makes many variations of soup - mainly carrot and apple. His favorite soup to make, though, also contains his most coveted food - fries!

I started to wonder how I could make him fry soup for dinner because I knew he would enjoy it. At first I thought something cheesy and creamy would be the way to go, but we limit dairy so I went in another direction. Turns out chili is a great base for fry soup! Think chili cheese fries, but with more chili and less cheese. Basically, just make your favorite chili recipe and top with oven baked French fries along with your other favorite chili toppings (here some grated cheese and chopped avocado).

Fry soup was on the menu for this week anyway, but with Dr. Seuss's birthday being today, I thought the good Dr. would appreciate the silliness of a child-directed meal. I even (this might mean I need help) made vegan coconut cupcakes for dessert in honor of the big day.

I really appreciate all Dr. Seuss did to encourage reading to be a fun childhood activity. Plus, he left us with many great ideas we can talk to our children about:

"Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!"
- Dr. Seuss

Monday, February 28, 2011

Wanted: Spring

As we're fighting off what feels like the one billionth cold of the winter and I'm listening to the pitiful sounds of Milo coughing his way through nap time, I am hoping that Spring is really coming and coming soon.

Yesterday, it was warmish (still cloudy and wet) and we headed out back for some much needed fresh air. We took two walks around the neighborhood enjoying the feel of muscles stretching further than the typical walk from car to front door. In the midst of the walking and breathing, we took some time to survey our yard. Storms this winter brought large branches crashing down and there are sticks and dead leaves everywhere. We will have a lot of cleanup to do before we start our garden.

Just as I was sinking back into a winter funk, I discovered a lively little clump of cheerful white flowers. And then I found another and another.

Sometimes I need to be reminded there are positives out there to be found if you just keep looking.

Friday, February 18, 2011

23 Months

This month has seen a(nother) language explosion with Milo now talking in little sentences. It's fun to watch him pick up new words and new constructions. In spite some boundary testing, I so love this age and this sweet little boy. He tries (and succeeds) to be funny, he is caring and kind to others and animals, he is a cuddle bug and a constant stream of motion. Seriously with the motion, it doesn't seem to stop unless he is fast asleep.

Milo had his first haircut a couple of days ago and along with his baby locks seemed to go any vestiges of the baby he was (well except the diapers and binky). I didn't think it would bother me having his haircut, but it took me a few hours to get reacquainted with him. He did a great job at the salon, watching his beloved Elmo and sucking a lolli, the hair cutting experience didn't phase him at all.

We've had a few warm days here recently and I can almost see the relief in Milo's face to be outside again. He has wasted in no time in sorting pebbles, playing in the dirt and watering plants. I do think he is wired to be a nature-loving little person.

With yoga becoming a bigger part of my life, it is starting to rub off on Milo. He has long been practicing downward facing dog along with cat and cow poses. The other day though we were watching a goodnight show on Sprout and they started to do stretching activities and he ran to the closet to get a yoga mat and join right in. I couldn't be prouder
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Monday, February 14, 2011

From the Heart

Each year Valentine's day seems to be about celebrating something different first it was unsure, awkward high school love, then it was crazy college love, after that I moved on to messed up love in my twenties and now I am finally settling into the delicious and secure love of a family. To be clear, I've always liked the "holiday" and find it harmless. In college some of my friends would wear black and shoot daggers at anyone wishing them a happy day. Even when I didn't have someone special to celebrate with, I would proudly wear red and enjoy the day. I believe today is about celebrating love in all of its forms. Love for significant others, love for family and love for friends.

In that spirit we are having a great Valentine's day. Milo had some friends over this morning for playing, snacking and crafting. The toddlers did a wonderful job of sharing toys and having fun together.

Later tonight, my parents will come over for some one-on-one time with Milo while Chris and I go out. Love is in the air!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Goal Beginning to be Realized

Continuing on with the meditation and yoga course I took over the last few months, I've started a teaching training class to be RYT-200 certified (aka a real yoga teacher). It's something I've been contemplating and working toward and then moving away from for years. I even taught for several months, thought about pursuing again before getting pregnant with Milo and am just now catching my breath. It's been a work in progress and will continue to be a process because I won't graduate from my class until November. I'm actually thankful for these delays because it reminds me yoga is something I always come back to. It's something of a signpost in my life. Plus yoga itself is a process and it is no shock to me that coming to the discipline has been a journey in itself.

The curriculum is rich in yoga philosophy, asana and tradition. I have monthly weekend trainings in addition to home practice and attending other classes. There is assigned and homework to be completed. I'm excited about the material and the opportunity. And I look forward to seeing where this rung of my yoga journey will lead.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Eating In

For the month of January, we challenged ourselves to eat each meal at a home. In other words, no eating out. This was in an effort to curb some spending, plan better and eat more healthfully. We weren't eating out a lot, but we were relying on it a little too much. If we had late afternoon plans, we would just stop at Chipotle or Graffiti Burger for dinner. Sundays we would often combine brunch with grocery shopping.

To successfully eat every meal in a home takes some planning. We would plan out dinners for the week and then always have breakfast and lunch staples on hand. By the end of the month, I was a little burned out on menu planning. It is a task that I don't enjoy while I am doing it, but I appreciate having the plan as the days go by.

While we did improve on planning, the jury is still out on the money spending. Our grocery bills went up, but I think we still came out ahead over a couple of meals out. Certainly, meal for meal eating in is less expensive (for example one night we had filet, salad and baked potatoes at home for about $20, the same meal out would have been $50ish).

It was a great experiment and while I'll loosen up the reins from here on out, it did teach me that we don't need to eat out quite as often as were as long as I have a plan and stick with it.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

For Breakfast

As we continue picking up books on a whim at the library, I also try to grab one or two by authors I am more familiar. One of these authors is Tomie dePaola, who I remember fondly from childhood. Some people don't like his artwork (I do) and some people don't like the content of some of his books (he has a lot of them), but overall I enjoy his work. Some of the books I've grabbed are not age appropriate for Milo right now, but some are and we've enjoyed reading those.

Yesterday at the library, we noticed a copy of Pancakes for Breakfast which while new to me has already become a hit at our house. The book (which doesn't have words) traces the morning of a little old lady who would like to have pancakes for breakfast. A series of misadventures does finally lead to that pancake breakfast, but it doesn't come easily. With no words, this book is a fun way to have children describe what they are seeing in the pictures and notice more closely how the pictures in books help to advance the story. I've also noticed Chris and I have slightly different ways of telling the story because of what we pick out of the illustrations. Another fun lesson in perception.

And perhaps best of all, guess what we're having for breakfast tomorrow?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

22 Months

Milo at 22 months is very fun, quite happy and super busy. He's go, go, go, climb, climb, climb and giggle, giggle, giggle. He keeps up almost a constant steam of conversation, most of it words I still can't decipher, but certainly actual words thrown in also. I can pretty much hold a conversation with him now although it mostly consists of the same questions and answers repeatedly.

My budding little chef loves to help me cook. He is almost always with me at the kitchen counter (and occasionally on the counter itself) standing on a chair helping me add "spice" to recipes. I've got to tell you, he's a little heavy handed with the garlic powder, but pretty much spot on with the other spices.

In addition to his love of cooking, he has created an ever deeper bond with his friend Baby Bunny (pictured with Milo here). BB was gifted to him last year for his birthday and has been a companion ever since especially at sleep times. Lately, however it is all BB all the time and Milo would prefer to have him with him at all times. I'm scared of losing BB, so the Bunny only stays in our house.

We're back to gymnastics and swim lessons and he is loving both. At swim lessons he can blow bubbles in the water and is getting more comfortable with going under the water. At gymnastics he mostly bounces off the mats. After both he sleeps well.

Also this month, we've been doing the letter of the day on his new chalkboard. We draw the letters, make the sounds, talk about words that begin with that letter, and eat a cookie of the letter. Partly because of this and partly because of the some alphabet books we have, Milo can identify most of the letters in the alphabet. He can also spell his name, but he does insist that MILO spells ELMO. So we have some work to do on that one.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Actual Family Photos

We're not a put on matching outfits and head to the mall for portriats type of family. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it just doesn't seem to fit our style. For that reason we have exactly one "professional" shot of Milo which is him from his daycare stint on school picture day (we bought it for the irony and because his gummy smile was so adorable).

So when I noticed a Groupon (click there and sign up by January 18 and we both get free credits!) deal of a photography package earlier this year, we decided to try it out. After much cancelling and rescheduling of the date, we met up with Tiara from McFalls Images on an unseasonably warm day in November. We all met at one of our favorite parks and had a lovely day playing in the sunshine while Tiara photographed us. It was a lot of fun and with a toddler sure beats a screaming fit at JC Penney.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Books I Read (and I don't mean to my toddler)

Here are the books I read in 2010. I feel like I stopped recording at some point late in the year, but I do like having the list. Several of the books were for my book club, some were picked up a whim at the library, and a few came referred from NPR. I really liked almost all of these books although some while enjoyable at the time are easy forgotten (The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club) and some (Never Let Me Go) still have me thinking.

Books Read 2010

  1. Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
  2. Me Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris (re-read)
  3. Her Fearful Symmetry – Audrey Niffenegger
  4. The Help – Kathryn Stockett
  5. NurtureShock - Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
  6. The Unhealthy Trurth - Robyn O'Brien
  7. Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage - Elizabeth Gilbert
  8. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Steig Larsson
  9. The Year of Magical Thinking - Joan Didion
  10. Sarah's Key - Tatiana de Rosnay
  11. No Reservations - Anthony Bourdain
  12. The Happiest Toddler on the Block - Dr. Harvey Karp
  13. The Last Chinese Chef - Nicole Mones
  14. The Red Tent - Anita Diamant
  15. Life's a Beach - Claire Cook
  16. The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club - Gil McNeil
  17. Lost and Found: A Novel - Carolyn Parkhurst
  18. The Hand that First Held Mine - Maggie O'Farrell
  19. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot
  20. The Handmaid and the Carpenter - Elizabeth Berg
  21. A Version of the Truth - Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack
  22. Irish Girls About Town: An Anthology of Short Stories - various
  23. Best Friends Forever: A Novel - Jennifer Weiner
  24. Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen
  25. The Wedding Officer: A Novel - Anthony Cappella
  26. Little Bee - Chris Cleave
  27. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  28. Alice I Have Been - Melanie Benjamin
  29. Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
  30. All We Ever Wanted Was Everything - Janelle Brown
  31. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk - David Sedaris

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011 Goals

I'm sitting here on my couch, sipping lukewarm coffee and listening to Jack Johnson. It is a rare moment of quiet and stillness in the house since Chris took Milo out to meet Dora. And I am totally content. Sometimes when things are good it is hard for me to think about how to make them better, so I am having a tough time framing resolutions for this year. However, even a totally content life can use a few little tweaks to make it more fulfilling. In that light, here are my goals for 2011.

  • Spend less time on Facebook. I'm addicted and I need to curb the habit. The site allows me to catch up with friends and family and I appreciate that, but I have the tendency to check it way too often and get annoyed with myself. So moving forward, I will check Facebook no more than three times per day for no longer than 10 minutes per session.
  • Promote a more peaceful house through less clutter and more cleaning. With cutting back on Facebook I should have more time for picking up toys, organizing mail and keeping counters clear.
Did you make any resolutions?